The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Thursday, January 29, 2004
A couple of Hutton conspiracy theories
Just to be quite clear here: I don't believe either of these theories, for the simple reason that there is no cogent evidence to support either. They're merely stated for the purpose of identification and elimination; and, of course, to stand ready in case such evidence emerges later on.
Theory #1Far from being disappointed that Hutton should have produced such a blatantly one-sided report, Blair actually planned it that way.
Following various media débâcles, and a continuous low-level war against the BBC, he wanted to demonstrate its mastery of an essential part of the British Filter. For Hutton to have issued a fair report would have been useless - no evidence of mastery there. What Blair needed to demonstrate the potency of his machine was to engineer a blatantly unfair report - a report inconsistent on its face, and with the evidence that Joe Blow could read on the Hutton website. A completely indefensible report.
And to make the BBC accept it. And kow-tow, and apologise for everything. (Which, indeed, is exactly what has happened, with acting chairman Richard Ryder's  abject and unspecific).
Theory #2Hutton produced his nullification under some kind of duress. He sat as a so-called Diplock judge on various terrorist cases in Northern Ireland, and HMG is in possession of certain knowledge which, if released to ex-terrorists (or - more accurately - terrorists currently on furlough), would make him an assassination target.
Or there is some other, non-Ulster-related matter with which he has been blackmailed.
As I said, I don't believe either theory. But if new evidence emerges, reconsideration may become necessary.
Further pondering produces a further conspiracy theory, going further back into chronology:
Alastair Campbell, veteran political hack before his appointment as top Labour spinner in 1994 (from memory), knows the machinations of the BBC well - from personal experience, as well as endless hours in pubs with complaining BBC johnnies.
Consider whether the forward strategy adopted by Campbell in opposition, and then continued after Blair's victory in 1997 was not conceived with an occurrence like the Gilligan affair in mind.
AC would cry wolf every hour on the hour. And his trained seals would do likewise. All specific stuff, needing man-hours of BBC research to answer.
Broadcasting snafus were pretty much guaranteed, but, in themselves, were unlikely to give AC his casus belli. But the wolf policy made likely a complaints snafu that would compound the situation in such a way as to breach the threshold for all-out war.
It was a win-win for AC: the regular artillery barrage would keep the BBC under the cosh, and liable to flinch, rather than defend the defensible. And, eventually, things would go nuclear with a Gilligan-type situation.
The strategy is not a million miles away from the Likud strategy in Israel . Just as carpet-bombing Gaza is not (for the moment) politically possible, neither is reducing the BBC to subscription-only (by taking away the licence-fee, its main source of income.)
AC picks at the BBC to encourage it to come after the government, and escalate the conflict; Israel expands settlements, builds the Wall (oops, Fence), restricts movement into Israel proper.
Eventually, the BBC/Palestinian response crosses the line and - bingo! the BBC's Charter is torn up; the less-than-friendly bombs drop on Gaza.
As with the other two, it's just a theory: and stays theoretical until good evidence is forthcoming.
And, even if AC had the plan (were still hypothetical here), I suspect he might have kept prissy-knickers Blair in the dark about it.
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